Friday, September 25, 2015

Textiles: The Art of Mankind by Mary Schoeser

My Notes:

  • Textiles reveal the human compulsion to engage with texture, color and storytelling.
  • Cultural significance  - through the ages so many produced and so many survived (remarkable since so fragile). 
  • Large amounts of the very earliest textile exist today because they were buried as grave goods.
  • Important role textiles have always played in ritual. 
  • Represent wealth and power, given as gifts, used to pay taxes, exchange for other good or services, even for peace.
  • The divine right to rule ensured that the kings and caliphs overflowed with exquisite textiles.
  • Homes of wealthy impressive textile legacies
  • Among many culture, textiles passed along lines of descent - dowry, lineage of woman.
  • Long before museums, collectors preserved textiles. 

  • 17th century - more prestigious and to own a fine silk garment or tapestry than a painting. 
  • Industrialization, gentrification, 20th century modern art movement pushed textiles to less important. Financial investment in painting and sculpture took precedence. 
  • Link to gender - men hold power for wealth and money and opportunity - textiles reduced to women's work. (Before industry, living more communal within a family and village)
  • Return to importance - 1960's - founded International Tapestry Biennial Switzerland and breakdown of tradition distinctions between art forms  - allowed for wider/non-traditional use of materials. Installation art. 
  • 1970's - Shift - instead of art that can only go into museums, art being made that couldn't go into museums. Earthworks. Christo and Jean Claude.
  • Also 1970's - feminist artists - confronting subjugation of women - incorporate textiles. 
  • Principles of collage in early textiles - appliqué and patchwork. 
  • Buddhist banners made of scraps of silk - chogak po a Korean patchwork method. 
  • Textile metaphors - following the thread, spinning the yarn - language, interwoven.
  • Ilka White, Entaglement, "Thinking about…all the myriad forms of connection, subtle to vast. Like when your chest feels ripped apart by the sky's eloquence. The mind extends way out beyond the skull…As the quantum physicist tells us, we live in an entangled universe."

  • Development of human brain stimulated by the emergence of basket weaving techniques.
  • Making of textiles - cognitive processing - led to robotics and computing.
  • Evidence - genetic - those that think with their fingers and are destined to manipulate materials. 

  • Visual vocabulary of textiles - thousands of years - connect cultures. 
  • Egypt - roundel form.
  • Persia 224-642 - silk, first know examples of pictorial loom-woven lengths of cloth, different colored  wefts. Dispersed as gifts and traded goods along the Silk Road (up to Scandinavia).
  • Tang dynasty - roundel aligned with Buddhist whee/cycle of life symbol - iconic image of court and church in China, Japan, India. 
  • Roundel modified by silk weavers into curved ogee typical of Italian Renaissance patterns (influenced by Islam, caliphs banned depiction of ??? from some regions). 
  • Design endures, distinct, sign of continuity and survival. 
  • Encircled eagle, emblem of Holy Roman Empire becomes Great Seal of the United States.
  • Origin inherent with textiles - material originating from plants/animals, someone makes the yarn/fiber. Origin, before, history, past - (link to the metaphors of following a thread and spinning a tale. All the different hands and places the materials passes)
  • Slavery. Also pesticides, bleaching. 
  • Natural world managed and altered to suit human need - (this need rooted in sensual desire - our desire to see or be seen with certain colors, textures, objects.

  • Peruvian textiles began to be excavated by German archaeologist in the 1880's.
  • Bauhaus - two cornerstones of modernism - the foundation course (the first to define methods of coordinating color according to hue's contrast properties, including intensity.
  • Itten - interest in weaving - learns from Gunta Stolz - Gunta becomes master of the weaving workshop in 1927.
  • Esther Fitzgerald - Modernism ws nourished by elements form the common pool of mystical ideas. 
  • Suggests Asian textiles direct influence on Modernist color theory. 
  • Anni Albers illustrated cloths by Peruvian weavers and cited them as her great teachers.
  • Agnes Myrtle Nelson - Analysis of Peruvian Weaves
  • Sensual and intensely reflective
  • Brennan-Wood - Vase Attacks San Francisco - reveals darker influences.
  • Roxanne Hawksley - Surgeon's Equipment
  • "Textiles form a firm foundation, a network linking a regard for the past, questions about the present and exhilarating ideas of the future."
Pile carpets, once rare, most extravagant of objects for the interior. 
These carpets for historians signify the presence of a highly organized workshop. 
Warp-looped piled clothes introduced to West via Italy beginning of 13th century, known as velvet, from Latin villus , meaning "laggy hair. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Detail of  stitching with silk and cotton thread on felt I dyed with ink.
Been working on this piece for, oh, almost three years now. 

Detail. Ink and metallic thread on faux fur. 

Detail. Cotton quilting thread on faux fur. 
Detail. Light and shadow on fabric. 
Detail. Waxed cotton, thread.
Ceramic forms (small) dipped in wax and paper forms painted in gesso
placed on black felt stitched with cotton thread.
Arrangement made by Amelia Eldridge during a studio visit. 
Detail. Thread, faux fur, ink.
Detail. Silk, cotton, metallic thread, felt. 
Detail. Thread, felt, dye, faux fur. 
Detail. Ink, thread, felt.
Detail. Silk and cotton thread, felt.
Detail. Silk, cotton and metallic thread, felt.
Detail. Thread, tracing paper.
Detail. Gold thread, felt. 
Detail. Wax, cotton, thread, felt.
Detail. Ink on chiffon.
Detail. Ink on chiffon.
Detail. Gesso, thread, colored pencil on tracing paper.
Detail. Gesso, charcoal on tracing paper with pin prick holes.
Detail. Paint, gesso, charcoal on paper.
Detail. Charcoal and pencil on gessoed paper.

Drawing on Tracing Paper

Maps, Charts and Diagrams Workshop at Arrowmont, Tennessee

Jul. 12, 2015 - Jul. 18, 2015
Laura Mongiovi
Fibers , Textiles , Mixed Media

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is a national art education center. The School offers weekend, one- and two-week workshops for the beginner to advanced artist, taught by national and international practicing studio artists and university faculty. Students work and learn in professionally equipped studios on a 14-acre residential campus in Gatlinburg, TN. A series of weekly classes are also offered for residents of the local community. Workshops and classes are offered in ceramics, fiber, metals/jewelry, painting, drawing, photography, warm glass, woodturning, woodworking, mixed media, books and paper. Link here to go to the the website home page. 

Arrowmont’s workshops are designed to provide creative opportunities for anyone who wants to learn new skills and be energized and inspired. Weekend, one-week and two-week sessions offer a concentrated experience of working in a professionally equipped studio with dedicated and talented instructors and other students. Students of varied experience levels, ages, and backgrounds work side-by-side, exchanging ideas and techniques. The power of focused time together results in new thinking and artistic growth for all. Workshops are open to students 18 years old or older, at all skill levels unless indicated otherwise in the course description. Instructors are national and international practicing studio artists and faculty at colleges and universities. Workshops are small, generally 10-12 students of varying experience and age but with a common goal of working hard, learning new skills and being creative.


I was invited to teach a workshop at Arrowmont this past summer. We used natural dye and shibori techniques to create lines and shapes on fabric that ranged from subtle to dramatic. Silk, cotton muslin and canvas were the fabrics we used. Once the fabric was dry students responded to thin, delicate lines and areas of pooled color by stitching with thread and drawing with pencil on the fabric. I introduced white and yellow beeswax so students could experiment with waxing a surface and using wax to create a three-dimensional structure. We used red onion skins, turmeric, mixed berry (heavy on the strawberries), coffee and tea for the dyes. Our studio was a sensual experience with many textures, the aroma from dye pots and the scent of beeswax. 

One of the textile studios. So many studios at Arrowmont!
This is where my workshop was held. The studio was well
equipped for dye - lots of big sinks, washer and dryer,
electrical outlets everywhere - everything an artist would
want! In addition to the great studio, Arrowmont provides
instructors with several studio assistants. 

Getting ready for my students! On the table are samples I made
earlier in the summer. Mixed berry (heavy on the blackberry),
coffee and turmeric. I also brought along some of my
favorite books to share.

Fabric in turmeric dye pot.

Karis pulling our first piece out of the turmeric pot. 

Red onion at two different stages. We saved the pot for
a few days. Each day the color lightened. The white cloth
tied with thread is some shibori action. 

Sierra rinsing out mixed berry (heavy on the strawberry). 

Tea on silk, coffee on cotton,
turmeric on cotton, turmeric on canvas.

Coffee on canvas, red onion on silk, mixed berry on cotton. 

Stephanie rinsing out shibori wrapped cotton muslin
from the turmeric pot.